Saturday, April 30, 2011

It's Time to Get Out of Afghanistan

I have spent the month of April thinking about this. When we invaded in 2001, it was a war of necessity, in my opinion. The ruling Taliban had given safe haven to Osama bin Laden and his followers, who used their Afghan base to plan the 9-11 attacks on the U.S.

Unfortunately, the administration's ambitions to forcibly spread democracy through the Middle East led it to fight the Afghan war on the cheap and to severely underfund post-war security and nation-building, just as we did in the 1980s after the CIA helped Afghanistan expel the Soviets. Rather than repeating the Marshall Plan, we repeated Charlie Wilson's War.

During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama argued for the need to wind down the Iraq occupation and instead devote more boots on the ground in Afghanistan and, if necessary, Pakistan. He has followed that policy. However, it seems like the window of opportunity to achieve our goals in Afghanistan closed in 2002.

Two events in April have underscored the futility of our continued occupation. At the beginning of the month, a UN compound in Mazar-i-Sharif was stormed by a group of ordinary Afghans without Taliban ties, and eight people were killed. The crowd was outraged by the burning of a Koran by a pile of human feces who claims to be a clergyman in Florida. It is notable that the Koran-burning did not provoke attacks on Westerners in more modern Islamic nations like Turkey and Indonesia, nor even in Saudi Arabia, the heartland of extreme fundamentalist Islam. The Koran-burning was a trigger and an excuse, but I believe the real reason for the attack in Mazar-i-Sharif was a deep hatred of western occupiers.

A few days ago, a member of the Afghan military, following a dispute of some kind with his U.S. allies, opened fire, killing eight U.S. troops and an American contractor before he was shot dead himself. He had no known ties to the Taliban nor Al Quaeda.

If the very people who are being served by UN workers in a relatively secure city hate them enough to riot and kill them, and the Afghan military whom we are supposedly training to take over the nation's security hates our troops enough to turn on them with little provocation, what can our continued occupation possibly accomplish? We are not just fighting the Taliban and Al Quaeda over there. We are fighting ordinary people who are frustrated by the corrupt kleptocracy we put in place there. Hamid Karzai rigged the last election, yet we supported him. How is that encouraging democracy? In Libya, we are dropping bombs to keep Quaddafi from killing the civilians who rose up against him, yet in Afghanistan, we are protecting Karzai from a similar uprising.

We need to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. Now.


Deekaman said...

I agree, but for different reasons. This Administration has shunned our friends and emboldened our enemies. Iran supplies the other side while POTUS wants to talk "without preconditions". There is no plan for AfPak. There is a National Interest there, but since we really seem to have no desire to mine minerals or drill for oil, but would rather lose out to China and live in the cold and dark, that Interest is moot. It has become the Vietnam Obama thought Iraq would be.

Time to go.

Dan said...

I'm glad you admit that Obama's plan was wrong and misguided.
But the attacks are unrelated and the last one appears to have nothing to do with Americans, from what the press reported. but hey could easily be wrong.
The problem I have is that you have a totally backwards Muslim country that makes the Amish look like 21st century pioneers in electronics.
We have no plan for Afghanistan, no plan on how to win and no exit strategy. Then you have the attacks in Pakistan which I don't think the Senate ever authorized.
If you leave Afghanistan, then you need to have a plan to mak sure the Taliban don't take over and they don't spread of radical Islam past the Afghanistan borders.

Janus said...

This is an interesting topic, given what has happened in the last 12 hours. While I am not here as some psycho ultracon militant, I feel the following thoughts are appropriate to consider.

The US military has just killed Osama bin Laden, and they did so due to long term intelligence work and military scouting. If we pull everyone now, we leave ourselves open to hostile actions that will be far too easy to enact by these terrorists that justify their actions with religion. The war needs to end, yes. But it's obvious to me that what we are doing over there is not just imperialist dreaming, and with this show of results from Obama I am willing to trust that a sudden and complete withdrawl is not yet the answer.

Ordinary Jill said...

At the very least, I hope this new development results in a reduction of predator drone strikes. Those drones were used in the search for Osama bin Laden, but they also resulted in many accidental civilian deaths and sparked a great deal of resentment towards our military and the CIA, particularly in Pakistan. They were probably of more use to Al Quaeda as a focus of anti-American propaganda than they were in achieving our actual objectives (since it seems that Osama was hiding in an urban area, not the vast wilderness that the drones were searching).

The Sight said...

I agree.

Deekaman said...

"(W)ith this show of results from Obama"...

Ummm...he's just following the same policies you folks wanted to impeach Bush over.

Ordinary Jill said...

No, Deekaman, he's not. If he sends boots on the ground to invade Libya without significant backing (both political and financial) from our allies, after briefing Congress with falsified intelligence, then he will be following the same policies we wanted to impeach Bush over.

Dan said...

Jill, that is so much crap and you know it.
If Bush started lobbing in missles and air strikes by drones without the Congress approval into a country that posed no harm to the U.S., you would be calling for his head. And if you don't think special forces aren't on the ground in Libya, then you are just naive. Don't play these games because you look foolish.
Further, you say the drones were looking for Bin Laden in rural areas but yet the intelligence showed where Bin Laden was living for the past several years. So that argument is kind of shot down.

Ordinary Jill said...

Dan, I supported Operation Desert Storm in 1991, which resembled the current Libyan operation much more closely than it did the 2003 Iraq invasion, so you're just plain wrong about what I would or would not scream about if (the other) Bush had done it. My argument about the drones still stands. For years, our forces looked for Bin Laden in remote areas of Waziristan, using drones as well as other technology. The fact that he wasn't there doesn't negate the fact that we were looking there.